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Our Ancestor's Wildest Dreams

So often as women we're asked about who we admire the most or who do we look up to in our lives. For us, we always think of the family members who have made a tremendous impact on our lives. March is Women's History Month and we want to take this time to reflect on 3 women from our family that have shaped us into our ancestor's "wildest" dreams. 

Every Sunday like clockwork we had family dinner at our grand aunt Jeanette's house.  She was old school where she cooked most of the meal on Saturday and on Sunday after church we would go over and cook the rice. She was a Trustee at our church, Greater Goodwill AME and was responsible for counting the collection money after church. Our family is huge and most Sundays we were at least 20 deep in her 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home. Adults sat at the dining room table (men in particular) and the kids found a seat wherever they could. It was some of the best years of our lives. It's where I learned how to properly set a table and also where my joy of cooking started. She transitioned to be with the ancestors in 2001, however, her legacy lives on. Although we don't have the large dinners anymore we will always cherish those moments. 

 

Our aunt Jeanette's mother, Rebecca was affectionately called Hessie. She was a stern black woman who commanded respect from everyone she knew.  She was the first person to introduce us to "cudda" (turtle soup) and cow tongue as meals. Her great grandchildren would come around and she would have us do store runs with exact change and scold us with branches brought in from outside from her bedside! Yes! Can you imagine that - someone "training up a child in the way he should go" from the bed? It was a hard life for us but somehow we knew she loved us and the manners she taught us would take us places that money couldn't.  In the community she was known for her services as a midwife, of which we weren't aware of until we were grown and started meeting "babies" she had delivered. Yes, because she was born during a time when blacks weren't allowed to go to the hospital. The community shared glorious stories about her and she was loved by many. She too has transitioned to be with the ancestors. 

Our mom taught us the value of hard work, intentionality, and being independent. As a single mother raising two girls she instilled in us to always have each other's back. We saw her work tirelessly from a low paying government position to serving one weekend a month and two weeks per year in the Army National Guard.  Yet sometimes there still wasn't enough money to take care of us. I think it's classified nowadays as "working poor". Sometimes she picked up a 3rd job working at a pizza shop or a hotel just to make ends meet.  Finally after years of struggling, a family member encouraged her to start sewing sweetgrass baskets. She had learned as a little girl and now she was in her 50's picking up her nail bone and sweetgrass again. But instead, this time the game had changed. Sweetgrass baskets were being sold for a much higher price, and then she decided to specialize in jewelry. She held a table in the city market for years and her jewelry has also been sold in the African American Museum in Washington, DC. She was actually one of the best in the business until her health didn't allow her to sew anymore. There are lots of people still wearing her jewelry to this day. While we miss her very much her legacy lives on through our hard work and tenacity. 

Who do you have in your family that you truly admire? If your'e blessed to still have them here let them know. Again, Happy Women's History Month!

 


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